I’ve got a race this weekend, and if I can tell you something in confidence, it’s that I’m not as fired up for it as I could be. Truth is, vacation was great, but it hasn’t been real good for my sense of purpose. I’ve been back a few days now, but physically, I feel like I left a good part of my soul sitting on the dock up by Green Lake, and it’s taking a toll on my focus. Plus, I gained six pounds while we were gone, and it makes me feel like a fucking beached whale. I’m sluggish in the water, sluggish when I run, and downright torpid when I try to stretch or do yoga. I feel okay on the bike, sure, but that’s only because I’ve been riding easy, and because it pays to ride easy when you commute. Biking in a hurry on New York City streets is a good way to get killed.
I know what you’re thinking, but the truth is that I’m not really thin like that anymore. Back in high school, yeah, I weighed about 155 lbs, and by the time I was in Beast Barracks, the upper classmen who told me that I looked like a refugee from a concentration camp were, I can admit, being tough but fair. And it’s not like I ever really gained much weight in the years immediately afterwards. Throughout my time at the Academy, I swam at a weight of around 162 lbs, and if I’m being honest, it would have been easier for me to drop weigh than to put it on.
After my swimming career ended, I made a decided effort to get un-skinny. I spent the last few months at the Academy lifting hard with a couple of my buddies, and by the time we graduated, I was already up to just over 170 lbs. By the time I was in Korea, I was lifting weights every day and drinking plenty of beer—that got me up to about 195 lbs. And then I left the Army and gained some serious weight, getting all the way up to 235 lbs before realizing that it was getting out of control. I started exercising again and didn’t have much trouble getting back down under 200 lbs, but even now as an in-season triathlete, it takes real work for me to stay under about 192 lbs. I went on a crash diet a couple of years ago using the Lose-It app on my phone and a carefully controlled diet that I built using the Thrive system, and I still only managed to get down to 186 lbs.
So, bottom line, I’m just not some skinny kid any more. Like it or not, that’s just not who I am.
Anyway, I came back from vacation at 198 lbs, and frankly, it amazed me because it’s not like we were particularly sedentary while we were gone. Granted, it wasn’t my normally demanding routine, but I swam a lot, we hiked a TON, and we even rode a little bit. I admit that I probably didn’t get my heart rate up over 110 bpm very often—in fact, probably not ever, except when we were climbing on the bikes a couple of times—but what do you expect? We were on vacation.
Anyway, I guess the weight gain is down mostly to too much beer and rich food. I don’t know how else to explain it.
Regardless, it’s been affecting how I feel this week, especially swimming. I have no idea what it’s gonna do to my racing this weekend, but it can’t possibly be good. I mean, I feel like I can go long just fine. But going fast? Right now, I’m having trouble remembering why anyone would even want to.
I may be a little behind the power curve on this one, but can I ask what the Hell Johnny Manziel is supposed to have to that's so bad that it deserves NCAA scrutiny? Or any scrutiny?
My man sold autographs for money. His autographs, on copies of his own likeness, which are both things to which he undoubtedly holds all rights and trademarks. But the NCAA is investigating him for inappropriate behavior, all while its selling his jerseys without even cutting him in on a percentage of the profits.
How is that even legal?
Fact is, I don't understand what the NCAA is driving at here. What if Manziel had been hired by the Washington Post to write a weekly column on college football? Would he be allowed to make money for that? What about if he'd decided to major in Journalism, making the column an undisputed part of his future career? And if not, then how is that different than working at McDonalds? For that matter, how is it different than selling autographs? These things are jobs, for which you can be paid. One is freelance writing, one is retail, one is straight-up sales. All are the kind of thing that people all around the world do every day to make a living. Granted, not everyone's autograph is worth something, but so what? If Manziel's signature and likeness are valuable, surely it's only because he's worked to make them so.
Like it or not, Manziel is as much in the business of celebrity as he is in the business of football, and based on the kind of success we've seen from people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, I have to conclude that, yes, celebrity is a legitimate business. It might not be easy, but it certainly is possible to make a living at it. That Manziel happens to making a go of it only means that he's acting in the interests of his future career--a thing that the collegiate system ought to encourage rather than bar. It's a tough economy out there, in case you hadn't noticed.
I only bring it up because I personally swam competitively all four years while I was in college at a Division I school. And I was paid. Every month, all four years. Granted, I went to the Military Academy, but that only means that the checks never bounced. And yeah, you may argue that I wasn't being paid to swim, I was being paid for my service to the Army, and that's true. But then again, Manziel's not being paid to play football, either. He's being paid to provide a specific hard trade good--his own signed likeness. So he's an entrepreneur. I don't understand why that's considered a crime. Or football related in any way, really.
I mean, is he also not allowed to set up a lemonade stand? 'Cause I have a feeling that if he did set one up, it'd be the most successful lemonade stand in Texas.
Especially if they put his picture on the cups.
And that's all I got this week. I'll let you know how the race goes.
Have a great weekend.